Emancipation, Confusion and Redemption

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Fist in Fetus’ 2007 EP release was one of the most inspired – and inspiring – discoveries I’ve heard all year (credit goes to intrepid TOTD bloodhound Cynicgods for finding it). You’ve heard symphonic elements woven into metal dozens of times by now, but they’ve rarely been this modern or unconventional. And it’s never taken the form of soaring power metal crossbred with screaming, spastic grind. Or delivered by an unlikely team of musicians – classically trained Perttu Vänskä and new Stratovarius guitarist (and Finnish Guitar Idol 2008) Matias Kupiainen.

If you haven’t heard it by now (and there’s no excuse, since it’s available for free here:, go and get your mind blown. For those of you who’ve already fisted this particular fetus, here’s Perttu Vänskä with some of the methods behind all of that madness.

How did the two of you meet and decide to start working together?

It was kind of a lucky coincidence we met, actually. In the past, we had a few mutual friends who thought we should be introduced, and it seems they were right – here we are. Our working habits and our tastes are pretty similar, so it’s kind of easy to do projects together. We also produce – do the same thing we do with our own projects – other people’s stuff, most of which comes out next year.  Check out at least Whispered and Shred Circus, they should be thought-provoking.

How did the Fist in Fetus sound come about? Did the two of you specifically set out to meld grind and power metal or was this a result of a more fluid, organic composition process?

In fact, we didn’t plan anything like FiF, it just happened. We just thought it’d be a nice idea to make some garage-grind/death with stories about mutilation, blasphemy, violent sexual encounters and all that regular nonsense, just to blow out some steam, and while I started sketching the music these weird ideas started to come along. First it was just a kind of silly experimenting with a string section, to clarify chordal, harmonic ideas and so on. When that worked, the strings expanded to an orchestra and so on – mostly because the concept felt dull and uninspiring while it progressed, and it grew on its own to be something more.

It’s great to hear classically-oriented metal that doesn’t pull from the regular pompous, Gothic sound. Who are your biggest classical influences?

Thanks, I like to listen to my own stuff as well! While we’re at it, I have to say the usual “metal with orchestra” sound is something I find so incredibly boring, it sickens me. The whole concept of wasting ridiculous amounts of cash, just to kind of “say louder” the same things you’ve already said with the band, is similar to the idea of spending million dollars to polish the text of a book with a nonsense story – just cosmetics. Actually, because most of us can write stories (while most of us can’t write music), if we read a bad book, it really leaves us with an empty feeling – if the same’s done with music, it seems people are often satisfied. And sure, there are books written that way that people happily buy and read, but does that mean it’s forbidden to write good books? If you take 40 players to studio and do something anyway, why shamelessly underestimate the listener, why use them only as a good sounding synth, instead of doing something that really adds to the music? Even better, why not write the music with the final line-up in mind from the beginning? Just by leaving a single foreground riff for the background section and thus turning the parts upside down for a change makes the music interact with itself, this makes the whole much more interesting and the different parts more integrated. The basic idea’s really simple, and most bands do this all the time – for example, with guitar solos – giving the leading role to the guitar for a while instead of the vocals. The problem with the orchestral arrangements of course, has to do with the fact that most bands don’t have a clue about classical music – only its relative, orchestral film music, in which the music most of the time just accompanies the picture (the picture being a band in the case of metal). And in fact – it’s really not the bands, it’s the audience to blame. Demand, fellow music enthusiasts, demand!…got a bit sidetracked, sorry. To answer your original question – my biggest classical influences are, hmm… I’d say Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Scriabin, Sibelius, Stravinsky, Debussy, Penderecki, Ligeti and a few modern-day composers like Harri Vuori and Philip Glass. So pretty much guys from the post-romantic/impressionistic era. And also I have to mention a few film composers, which hopefully jeopardizes my credibility – Bernard Herrmann, Danny Elfman and of course the almighty John Williams – who in fact I could leave out and replace with Richard Strauss, since Williams’s pompous sound originates from there.

This is a concept album – what’s the storyline? Based on the lyrics and songtitles, it seems like a man brought back from the dead to kill and punish the weak, but he’s conflicted as to what his purpose really is. What was the inspiration behind this?

Hmm… this is a topic I wouldn’t necessarily want to discuss, as it kind of takes away the mystery and the freedom of interpretation, but since I have a vision of the music, I guess I could tell you how I see it. Feel free to see it otherwise, and share your view. You are partly right. “Emancipation,” though, has nothing to do with rising from the grave – “eternal tomb” and such are kind of clumsy metaphors for a dark, damp, silent place. Kind of similar to the tomb where most of us will rest in our death – we’re all sleeping for our first “eternity”, the womb. Eternal comes from the fact that since the beginning, every living thing (well, at least mammals) has called that place their first home. Thus our protagonist is really brought to life from the transcendental place where he’s been lurking (here’s a topic for an interesting philosophical conversation – where are we before our birth, or are we?) before Emancipation. “Isolated” would then be a true emo song, because it’s basically about youth – the pain and the anxiety – angst, as it’s called in German – the inevitable things that come with consciousness. Really this whole concept of angst, consciousness and all that connects to them is the main theme on the story. In a nutshell, the famous “you can’t understand how I feel, I’m so alone” line (which, although this revelation might ruin someone’s idea of how the world works, is just not true), and what it might lead to, where it originates from, what it makes us think and so on. The angst comes from the idea of not fitting in, not having a place in the grand design. Our main character thinks about these things until they come to life as a voice in his head, telling him that it knows the protagonist’s purpose in life. “Communion” is about this, getting familiar with the Voice. In short, the intriguing offer is that by following the instructions, the main character could be released from all the pain he’s feeling. “Confusion” is about the inner struggle between the ideas of accepting the offer and doing what’s “right”. Finally, “Redemption” is purely about the real thing: killing, and the emotions one gets from killing. The middle section with all the crazy shredding and Bernard Herrmann string stuff is mostly all about the emotions – it could be thought as ecstasy leading to realizing what you’ve done, leading to denial, leading to remorse and then leading to acceptance. It’s one continuum, but mostly it’s just music going in the direction it wants to go – kind of like the inner world within.

What kind of progression can we expect from future Fist in Fetus releases? Any other elements you’d like to work into the sound?

Hmm… I’m not sure yet. We’ll have to see what comes out. First priority is to get the album out, to finish the story started on the EP. It would be nice to experiment with different kinds of things, but FiF seems to be turning more and more into a concept thing, so it depends if the new ideas happen naturally. If techno or country guitar can be used with an ageless fashion within the music, why not? Of course techno and country music have strong connotations in listener’s mind, so it wouldn’t necessarily be too easy to integrate them, but in the end the music tells where it wants to go, not so much my or anyone else’s consciousness.

If you could choose any two bands to tour with, who would it be?

There are lots of great bands out there, but this time, let’s choose Elton John and Madonna – I bet they have good catering and tour crew (can’t forget the sleep and the nutrition, otherwise the partying stops before it’s even started). Elton probably would have an orchestra already touring with him, and we’d surely get some attention from the media! Besides that, we could drink all their booze also, except if Madonna has some Jack Daniels that uses kabbala-blessed water for the distilling process. And above all – I’m pretty damn sure Elton singing “Redemption” would sound awesome! Imagine now, he’s there, banging his piano, wearing some insane Liberace-like costume, spotlights all over, Matias flying above the audience, hanging on a harness, shredding like hell, and Madonna shakes her nice 50-year old booty and we all sing merrily together “dying’s just a state of mind, you’ll find it fine not to be alive.” And after that, maybe “I’m Still Standing” or “Like a Virgin”. Wouldn’t that be nice? From the metal side, I could choose Symphony X and Metallica. I like Symphony X’s stuff – they’re really doing something with their music, although the most recent album isn’t on my favorite list. And Metallica’s just plain awesome, those guys still kick major ass after all these years (in fact, I’ve recently been listening to Load and Reload a lot). But I most definitely would listen to Metallica on tour only with an mp3-player, at least when Lars was around.


  1. Commented by: axiom

    Wow. Best “release” of the year. Here’s a listener who really appreciates not being underestimated. Thank you FIF, and Gabaghoul for the sweet little interview.

  2. Commented by: Belgarath

    Great interview! “…those of you who’ve already fisted this particular fetus”, nice gaba.

    Gotta say, these guy display more compositional craft than most bands I’ve ever heard. Really looking forward to see what they do in the future!

  3. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Hahahah I’m a bloodhound. I’m still very sorry for the previous misunderstanding, Gaba-man. Nice interview, the guy seems as crazy as his music.

  4. Commented by: Dimaension X

    I enjoyed the EP immensely. Their combination of classical-meets-death is definitely unique and intriguing. These guys have loads of talent.

  5. Commented by: Dan

    HUZZAH to dudes with glasses!!!! Keep the flame alive!!!!

  6. Commented by: Dan

    Spectacles are fucking METAL!!!!

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